When Flavor Right invited retail bakery owners across the United States to share their stories in the 2016 Flavor Right Icing Funds Contest, the response proved nearly overwhelming. The innovative toppings and icings company received more responses than imagined, demonstrating the passion and entrepreneurial spirit that independent bakeries carry on every day.
When asked what inspires these bakery owners to work so hard and push the envelope of creativity, their common anywhere was, “I love putting smiles on people’s faces.”
To celebrate the success of independent bakeries throughout the country, Flavor Right awarded $20,000 in prizes to 13 winning bakeries, including a grand prize of $5,000 and two first prizes of $2,500 apiece. Flavor Right plans to conduct the contest again in 2017.
Grand prize winner Tina Salvatore, who owns Tina’s Cake Emporium in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, plans to use a portion of her $5,000 grand prize money to purchase a fondant sheeter so she can create her cakes a little faster.
“The one thing that I feel is the secret of my success is my desire to bring joy to people,” she says. “I love creating something that puts a smile on their face. I love hearing stories of how a cake that I did was such a hit at a party. Ho the birthday boy or girl loved the design. SO whether it’s a 10-year-old’s cake or a giant orange creamsicle cupcake for the town clerk for 25 year of service, those smiles and squeals of excitement are what make me keep coming back to my bakery every morning.”
Grand Prize: Tina’s Cake Emporium
Tina’s Cake Emporium is run almost solely by Tina Salvatore herself. She worked in corporate accounting, until her employer moved the business to Florida, and she simply couldn’t leave Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and her family. Instead of taking another accounting position, her husband recommended that she follow her dreams to start a bakery. Six weeks later, she opened Tina’s Cake Emporium.
Salvatore has incredible community support, as a constant stream of people walked in to congratulate her as she received her prize, including the town’s first selectman and editors to the town newspaper. She spends almost all of her nights and weekends at the bakery, creating custom beautiful custom cakes for her small town. “The best one so far had to be the pirate ship cake I did for a young girl’s 10th birthday,” she recalls of a favorite memory. “I designed it with her and her parents and when they came to pick it up we surprised her with it and the smile on her face couldn’t have gotten any bigger if we tried. Her eyes lit up and a smile went from ear to ear and then some. That feeling I get really warms my heart and that’s when I know I’ve succeeded.”
First Prize: The Perfect Day Cakes & Bakery, Owatonna, Minnesota
The bakery is run by Thea, Eric and Tatiana Farrington. It is just the three of them running the only bakery in their small country town. Tatiana, Thea and Eric’s 11-year-old daughter just recently saved up all of her tip money to invest back in the bakery by opening up a mini candy shop inside. The bakery offers many items, but most impressive was the 150 different flavors of gourmet sized cupcakes they offer.
One favorite is Thea’s Mountain Dew cupcake with Bavarian cream filling, cream cheese icing, topped with crushed Doritos. The bakery has gorgeous, large front windows. They have plans to use the money to paint them in order to upgrade their downtown and give more visibility to the shop. “When opening the bakery, I knew that quality cakes and great decorating weren’t enough. You have to run it as a business,” admits Thea. “Next, this is a relationship business, especially in a small town. Another item that I think helps my success is I genuinely want to make people’s lives better. This includes my customers, employees and my community.”
First Prize: Stone House Cakery and Café, Taneytown, Maryland
At Stone House, love is the first ingredient, literally. One day, owner Lois Trout created a new flavored cupcake to sell at the farmers market and decided to hide “love” in the ingredient statement, figuring no one ever reads the label. By the end of the day, that cupcake outsold every other flavor. The buyers asked why one was made with love and the others were not. From that day on, love has always been first. In tears, Trout shared that she now has the money to purchase a refrigerated cake case. They currently only have a candy case and have to store their cakes in chest freezers. She will now be able to increase her walk-in business.